Content Load Balancing Switches

1070 pts.
Layer 3-7 Switches
Networking Equipment
Vendor support
Hi all - I'm working on a network design for a colo-based service site which will be load balancing both http and MySql (authenticated) services, and I'm looking at two possible solutions. 1) One of the Nortel Alteon content switches (low end) or 2) The Cisco CSS-11052 content switch. I'm somewhat familiar with the Alteon's (having worked on them in the past). Does anyone have experience with either - or better - both? The main reason for considering the cisco at all is because it simplifies my purchasing picture - but it may also be workable for what I'm doing. Opinions please? Thanks, Bob

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Hiya Bob,

I’ve unfortunately not had the pleasure of working with load-balancing devices, but I have worked for a few companies that have used the devices, and tried to learn as much about them as I can.

The general concensus is that the CSSs are where it’s at; you get the consistent management interface of IOS (less ramp-up time, if you’re already Cisco-literate), and a broad community of support resources outside of the excellent Cisco customer service offerings.

Fromm what I’ve read, depending on pricing (don’t have access to that at the moment), you may want to go with the CSS 11500 series; it appears to handle fragmentation better than the 11000 series, among a few other niceties.


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  • HumbleNetAdmin
    I am using Coyote Equalizer E350 load balancers to balance web traffic for 3 domains http/https to 4 webservers and terminal services to 3 terminal servers, works very well and the learning curve on it was minimal. I have two of them configured for failover, if one goes away, the other takes over.
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  • Sonotsky
    Bob, If you want to save some money from the project's budget and your customer is open to it, you may want to consider getting a hefty Intel or Power-based box and using Squid on *BSD or Linux. It works great as a reverse proxy, and you can't really beat the price. :) Cheers
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  • Netxpert
    I just completed my org Data Center design for DENVER. For our SQL, .Net and WEB Logic and WEB Sphere front and backend load balancing solution. We did a POC for Nortel, Cisco, F5 & Net Scalar. The finalist were F5 and Netscalar. We're now doing final test scripts. From the looks of it Netscalar performance is far better then any of the others. I will keep you guys posted of our decisio. BTW- we're one of the biggest financial institute.
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  • CiscoNetguy
    I can tell you that the cisco solution is solid and if you have a switch such as a 6500 in the core you can get a CSM blade to do the load balancing. We were a nortel/cisco shop and have been converting to all cisco .. I currently have concerns about the Viability of Nortel ... I would hate to make a recommendation and spend substantial money on solution only for them to pull an Enron and have an infrastructure that is unsupportable.
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  • Sonotsky
    A recommendation for an all-Cisco solution from a guy named "CiscoNetguy".... I'm detecting a *slight* bias here. :) Just kidding. Getting an all-Cisco solution at this point in time is like getting an all-IBM solution 20-30 years ago - "no one ever got fired for buying Cisco", to paraphrase. Then again, more and more these days, an open-source solution is gaining credibility and respect from the PHBs. As for Nortel pulling an Enron - in a sense, they already have. They've admitted to fudging their results for several years now, and yet they manage to keep their doors open (albeit just barely). Even if they do go under, you wouldn't lose all support - there are plenty of resellers who can provide a measure of support in a pinch (at least, long enough 'til you can migrate to another solution), but I don't think this is likely to happen. Cheers
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